Big Picture

Yesterday I bitched about Levi Strauss and their support for gun control.  Then, on reading about the new Nike marketing campaign featuring that asswipe quarterback as a symbol, I stumbled on this gem at The Last Refuge which, as always, put both events into perspective:

The bigger risk to Nike has nothing to do with Black Lives Matter, U.S. Consumers, or Antifa-like political advocacy. The bigger financial risk to the Nike Corporation has everything to do with geopolitics and a reset of international trade agreements.

You must read it all;  but as a spoiler, let me just hint that both Nike’s and Levi’s campaigns are being driven by a secret textile manufacturing agreement with… North Korea through China.  In fact, instead of bringing the manufacturing of their products back to the United States (which is actually a viable option), it seems that both corporations would rather undermine the U.S. government’s trade policy, just to keep their own foreign business deals going.

Bastards.  Bastards.

Temptation

Over at Insty’s, Stephen Green commented on this little story that he couldn’t imagine going into a Levi Strauss store ever again, and I agree.

Levi Strauss announced on Tuesday it would be creating a new gun-control group with billionaire Michael Bloomberg and donating millions of dollars to a collection of established gun-control groups.

I don’t wear jeans often — in fact, I last wore them about a year ago, so I’m hardly in Levi’s target market anyway.

But that’s not the “temptation” I refer to in the headline;  this is.

A couple weeks back I gave a woman a “lyft” to the airport.  She’d just come out of the Levi Strauss store here in Plano, and as we drove off I asked her what she’d just bought there.  She said “Nothing;  actually, I work for Levi Strauss.”

For a moment I considered — really considered — whether I should act like someone from the Left would act, and terminate the ride then and there, declaring that as a member of the National Rifle Association, I refused to provide a service to an organization which supported gun control.

I didn’t do that, of course, because I’m not some virtue-signaling asshole.  What I could have done was start to talk about how much I loved guns, and shooting, just to piss her off;  but I didn’t do that either because that might have “triggered” the woman into giving me a one-star Uber rating at ride’s end, running the risk that she was a virtue-signaling asshole (she was a San Francisco native, so the odds would have been high).

As it stands, though, I’ll just have to content myself with never again buying anything associated with Levi Strauss (which would be Dockers, Signature and Denizen).

Bastards.

Wealth-Envious Bullshit

Apparently, some financial “experts” in Britishland have taken exception to the massive bonus paid out to a company’s executive chairman:

One of Britain best-paid female bosses has been slammed by critics over a £29million bonus.
Avril Palmer-Baunack runs British Car Auctions, which owns We Buy Any Car, the car-buying website known for its catchy jingles.
On top of the £29 million bonus, which is linked to an increase in the share price, she also got an eight per cent increase to her basic salary to £525,000. The company defended it by saying it needed to pay a ‘competitive’ rate.
But in a report to investors, influential advisory firm Glass Lewis called the £29 million payout to Palmer-Baunack ‘exceptionally disproportionate’.

…and needless to say, the politicians want to get in the game:

Last year, Theresa May announced plans to censure stock market-listed firms who drew exceptional levels of complaints from shareholders over bosses’ pay.

There is just one problem with all of this outrage:  it’s total bullshit.  Here’s why (from the article itself):

The vast sum, 59 times her normal salary, is the result of an incentive plan drawn up four years ago to grow the firm.

In other words, four years ago the board of directors told the CEO that if she managed to grow the company’s value by x, she would be paid y.  (And I should also point out that this incentive plan would have required a formal agreement from the shareholders — the same shareholders who are now bitching about the thing — before being implemented.)

Well, that’s exactly what our Avril did, so she has to get paid the bonus.  (The size of the bonus is irrelevant, because it was obviously based on a sliding percentage driven by the amount of growth.)

Of course, the trolls at Glass Lewis don’t see it that way, because (and once again from the article):

[Glass Lewis] said the increase in the value of BCA may have been boosted by broader swings in stock market prices ‘rather than company or management performance’.

Well, guess what?  “Broader swings” in the stock market are a result of shareholder confidence in the market’s activities and results — and if the company and its boss benefit from that, it’s called “good luck”.  I should point out once again that if the market is tanking and it takes a company down with it — through no fault of the company boss, mind you — the boss may well get fired anyway because at the end (and please note this, because it’s important), executive management is responsible for one thing, and one thing only:  growth in the value of the shareholders’ investmentHow it gets there is irrelevant (except in the Land Of Wealth Envy).  When they say, “The buck stops here”, that’s precisely what it means:  the ultimate responsibility for shareholder value lies with the executive manager, and with this comes either termination or reward, as agreed by the shareholders.

All the other guff about Palmer-Baunack being a female executive, incidentally, is just smoke — her sex is completely irrelevant, as it should be.  Then there’s this:

The vote on the pay report is only advisory so, if Palmer-Baunack feels able to shrug off criticism, she will be allowed to keep the lot.

Let’s hope the woman has an iron nerve (which she seems to have, by the way), and tells all the wailers to fuck off.

Palmer-Baunack, who has a grown-up son and daughter and is married to a German executive at Volkswagen, previously defended her £7.1 million pay packet for 2015 by saying: ‘Anyone who says they don’t want money is talking bullshit. We all want to earn money for our family.’
The Edinburgh-born executive, 54, has been vocal about women in the workplace in the past. She once said she was ‘very cynical’ about the existence of ‘glass ceilings’ – the term used to describe the limits on the career opportunities for women in big corporations.

Considering that she started off as an agent for a car rental company, I think she’s proved her point.

And if the wailing gets too much, she should really tell them all to get stuffed by taking her £29million bonus and going off to live in Switzerland, Monaco or the Caymans, beyond the reach of the would-be wealth confiscators.

Good luck to her, say I.

Now Multiply That By A Million

I saw this little story via Insty, and it made me not just sad, but furious.  Read it first.

They didn’t lose a fortune, because they never had the opportunity to earn one. Nothing happened. There they sit. And there they’ll stay.

And that’s where the writer is wrong.  You see, economists and accountants have a terms for this phenomenon, and it’s called “opportunity cost” — in other words, the financial cost of a lost opportunity.  Because when people open up their own business and it’s even moderately successful, they have to hire other people to work for them.  Those workers in turn become successful, and pay taxes, and perhaps use the learning to open their own businesses.

The aggregate opportunity cost of this ripple effect, just for this little case study, is potentially millions of dollars.  The Toni & Guy chain of hair salons started in precisely this fashion with a single outlet in the 1960s, as did the JiffyLube chain, back in 1979 — and I chose these two businesses deliberately, because those are the two types of business that the above story deals with.  Who’s to say that Kaitlyn and her husband wouldn’t have had a success story similar to Tony&Guy and JiffyLube?  But we’ll never know, will we, because the heavy hand of government regulation reached into their lives and killed their adventure before it could get started.

So when Donald Trump’s first action as POTUS was to decree that all government departments had to delete multiple regulations for every new one they wanted to promulgate, it was to free people to get going with their businesses and dreams.

Lest we forget, the fucking Democrats are the party of massive regulation and government intrusiveness — and remember that if you’re toying with a “protest” vote against Trump (or a quixotic vote for a third-party no-hoper) in the mid-term elections later this year.  (If you’re a lifetime Democrat voter and want socialism, then you’re at the wrong website and, if I may say, in the wrong country.)

It’s all very well for the economy to grow when manufacturing opens new plants and what have you (which is what Trump has also been making happen) — but that growth is finite.  Individuals starting their own businesses and becoming successful isn’t finite:  that is where America is at its strongest, and that is what will create true economic success for the whole country.  And Donald Trump understands this, and because of it he deserves our unflagging support, if for no other reason.

Incomprehensible Fuss

So one of Wal-Mart’s satellite suppliers was selling “Impeach 45” (i.e. the 45th POTUS, Donald Trump) merchandise, but after some people started squealing, the Big W ordered the stuff pulled.

I have to say that I’m a little nonplussed by the fuss.  Frankly, I remember when a lot more “objectionable” stuff was sold — and still is, e.g. Che Guevara T-shirts — and the world got on just fine.  Even the satirical riffs on the revolting Obama’s “Hope” / “Dream”  logo could have been construed as objectionable, at least to liberals, Commies and Democrats [massive overlap] , but I don’t remember howls of outrage coming from them — and they are quite easily the most-easily-triggered population group ever (see MAGA caps, reaction to).

And I’ll probably get the “But it’s Wal-Mart that’s selling it!”, as though the stereotypical American retailer (with 90% of its inventory carrying a Made-in-China label) should somehow be above such objectionable merchandise.  (I note that the Emperor Misha’s excellent dictum — “Rope.  Tree.  Journalist.  Some Assembly Required.” —  was also pulled from being sold on a T-shirt, as though journalists should not be strung up weekly from lampposts, as commonsense would suggest.  Sheesh.)

But with all the shit that the Left is causing these days, a stupid call for impeachment (which ain’t gonna happen, no matter how many Impeach 45 T-shirts they sell) is small potatoes.  Far more problematic is [list of 2,000 Lefty-loony actions omitted, for space reasons] .

Let’s face it:  we as a nation have a long and proud tradition of using T-shirts, pamphlets and bumper stickers to get under the other guy’s skin and up his nose.  And I’m enough of a capitalist to believe that as long as there’s a market, people should be able to make a buck from it, regardless of offense taken.

Here’s my suggestion for a T-shirt logo which broadens Misha’s thought somewhat:

Think I could get Target to carry it?